The exhibition, which includes paintings by lesser known painters such as Jens Ferdinand Willumsen and Akseli Gallen-Kallela is "dedicated to Symbolist landscape painting... a more imaginative, emotional response to the world around them – a route which took [artists] from Naturalism to the edges of Abstraction. The exhibition will present a wide range of poetic and suggestive paintings of nature from about 1880-1910."
Kirsh writes: "In terms of the exhibition's theme one has to ask, why this subject then? And why such monumental paintings? The previous avante-garde had pointedly rejected the hierarchies of the Academy, which considered still lives and portraits beneath consideration, landscapes a lesser genre, and valued only history painting: paintings of figures depicting scenes from Biblical or Classical stories or actual events, such as Gericault's Raft of the Medusa. These have been called the grand machines of the French tradition, and only Manet attempted the genre (traditionally with the Execution of Maximilian, and in abased form with his Dejuner Sur l’Herbe and Olympia). This return to majestic history painting certainly raises the question of what turn-of-the-20th century painting should be and do, and where it fits within the history of art. The paintings by Gauguin, Cézanne and Matisse stand out in scale and ambition, exceptions within their oeuvres.
Leslie Anderson blogs about Paul Gauguin's Still Life with Profile of Laval, known as a Freundschaftsbild, a picture exchanged between artists to "demonstrate friendship and, often, artistic allegiance."
Anderson cites "evidence that van Gogh proposed a portrait exchange to foster the Gemeinschaft (sense of community) between himself and fellow artists Gauguin, Laval, and Émile Bernard... These portraits, which are rendered in new artistic idioms, announce the painters’ collective denial of naturalism and simultaneous entrée into the international Symbolist movement."
Bob Duggan previews the exhibition Paul Gauguin: Maker of Myth which will travel from London's Tate Modern to the National Gallery in Washington D.C. on view February 27 - June 5, 2011. The exhibition "picks up the pieces of what seems to be Gauguin’s shattered psyche and reveals the method behind his madness. Both a deliberate and an accidental mythmaker, Gauguin first became a legend in his own mind before he could become a legend in his own time, or ours."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.